November 2022


Inv. 02-15886

Willard Baker (1844-1927) enlisted as an 18 year old drummer in Company D, 75th Ohio Volunteer Militia in 1861. He mustered out in December 1864 having seen most major battles of the Army of the Potomac. Willard’s drum is a regulation snare drum, 16 &1/4” dia. & 14 &1/2” tall & was probably taller when built, but heads have shrunk down from the top & up from the bottom of its body, producing a slightly shorter profile. The eagle motif on the drum is atypical, not produced w/ the usual stenciled painting method most often encountered on mass produced Civil War drums. Rather, it is a beautiful free hand painted work of art of the highest quality, consisting of an impressive Patriotic American eagle holding a red ribbon over an American shield, bordered w/ a gilded rococo wreath. The drum body is blue & each hoop is striped red, white & blue. Willard’s fife & drumsticks were also preserved by the family & included w/ this lot. Additionally, Willard’s personal CDV album (personally inscribed by him as being purchased in January 1864) accompanies his drum & is a stand alone collectible, consisting of 15 military CDV’s, 11 of which are views of his fellow musicians, most of whom are standing next to a drum mounted on a chair (one image appears to contain this very drum) & all are identified (including 2 of Willard) & w/ many of them signed. Musician CDVs include one of Hosea R. Felter, who is the oldest musician in this group at 26 years old & was Principal Musician. All the other musicians were typically teenagers when they enlisted like Willard, who was 18 when he entered service. Several were captured, including Willard, & a few were wounded though all amazingly survived the war. A little research is done on each soldier in an accompanying research file. In Willard’s CDV of Felter, he is wearing musicians sword, sash & holding a fife. The photographs are mostly by Sam Cooley w/ various Southern back-marks, Beaufort, South Carolina. Also in this archive is Willard’s original discharge paper, original pension documents and a wonderfully preserved and unique invitation to Gettysburg’s 50th reunion signed by James Middleton Cox, Gov. of Ohio in addition to numerous period newspaper clippings. An additional & unusual document is a hand written manuscript list of 106 towns that the 75th Ohio marched through during the war, they definitely moved a lot & saw most every town in northern Virginia, every town ever mentioned in the Antietam campaign in Maryland, as well as that of Gettysburg.

This list was written by Musician James Pennell, one of the soldiers pictured in the CDV album w/ a bass drum. The 75th Ohio’s service record is found accompanying this lot. At the battle of Chancellorsville, most of the 11th Corps was taken by surprise during Jackson’s surprise attack, w/ many running in panic. The 75th however was cited for standing their ground, taking 150 casualties, killed & wounded in just 10 minutes, including Col. Robert Reily. Being quickly paroled & later at the battle of Gettysburg, the 75th would be under the command of Col. Andrew Harris whose CDV is in album, he would later become Gov. of Ohio. On the first day of fighting, the 75th had a defensive position on what is now known as Barlow’s Knoll which was too far forward of the rest of XI 4 which was attacked by 2 Confederate brigades of General George Doles & General John B. Gordon. Union General Barlow’s Division (including the 75th) was overwhelmed, suffering large losses, Barlow being wounded & left for dead on the field. Col. Harris & the 75th made a successful withdrawal to Cemetery Hill where they became entrenched on the northeast side. The following day they were among troops that held off attacks from the Louisiana Tiger’s brigade. Overall, the Buckeye Regt. had 186 casualties, 16 killed, 74 wounded & 96 missing & captured.

There are two battlefield monuments in Gettysburg that represent the position of the 75th in this decisive battle. The regiment’s last service was in the 10th Army Corp. on the South Carolina coast where photographs of Willard’s fellow musicians were taken. There is a notarized affidavit from Willard’s great-great-grand-daughter stating how these items descended in family & most interesting she notes that the broken bottom hoop of the drum was caused by a “strike” during the battle of Gettysburg. Consignor insisted that all items be sold as one lot & not separated, preserving a very rare and important grouping.